10:24 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The New York Times reports the Obama administration relaxed immigration restrictions and did favors for a wealthy Ecuadorian family after some members of the family donated to Democratic campaigns. From the Times:
The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials.
The woman, Estefanía Isaías, had been barred from coming to the United States after being caught fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids. But the ban was lifted at the request of the State Department under former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton so that Ms. Isaías could work for an Obama fund-raiser with close ties to the administration.
It was one of several favorable decisions the Obama administration made in recent years involving the Isaías family, which the government of Ecuador accuses of buying protection from Washington and living comfortably in Miami off the profits of a looted bank in Ecuador.
The family, which has been investigated by federal law enforcement agencies on suspicion of money laundering and immigration fraud, has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to American political campaigns in recent years. During that time, it has repeatedly received favorable treatment from the highest levels of the American government, including from New Jersey’s senior senator and the State Department.
Read the whole story here, which also suggests Democratic senator Robert Menendez helped the Isaías family.
Sep 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 01 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Back in March, The Scrapbook noted that federal judge Lewis Kaplan had thrown out a $9.2 billion judgment against the oil company Chevron. In his decision, Kaplan documented a staggering amount of corruption by the plaintiff’s attorney, Steven Donziger.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Last week, a federal judge ruled that a $9.5 billion judgment for environmental damage in Ecuador could not be enforced against Chevron. American environmental lawyers had brought suit against Chevron for polluting the Amazon basin in Ecuadorean courts, which in turn handed down the astronomical judgment. But U.S.
1:01 PM, Jun 23, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Ricardo Patiño Aroca, Ecuador's minister of foreign affairs for trade and integration, announces on Twitter that they've received a request for asylum from Edward Snowden:
2:14 PM, Jun 18, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Chinese organ Xinhua reports that Ecuador might offer asylum to Edward Snowden.
"Ecuador would consider granting asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA employee who single- handedly disclosed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)'s PRISM mass-surveillance program, a top Ecuadorian official said Monday," the outlet claims.
2:50 PM, Feb 14, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
About two years ago, a senior Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official said that a certain Latin American country was becoming a veritable “United Nations” of organized criminal activity, attracting gangsters from such diverse and faraway places as Albania, China, Italy, and Ukraine. He was not talking about Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, or Brazil. No, Jay Bergman, the DEA’s Andean regional director, was describing Ecuador, a small nation of 15 million people that is tucked between two of the largest cocaine-producing countries on earth. “If I’m an Italian organized drug trafficker and I want to meet with my Colombian counterpart,” Bergman told Reuters, “I would probably prefer to meet in Ecuador than to meet in Colombia.”
Chávez disciple Rafael Correa has escalated his persecution of journalists.10:00 AM, Aug 8, 2011 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Back in May, Ecuadorean voters approved a referendum that gave President Rafael Correa broader authority to regulate opposition journalists. At the time, Freedom House expressed concern that Correa was acquiring “undue influence over the country’s media,” and its senior program manager for Latin America, Viviana Giacaman, said that “Correa’s continuous demonization of independent media and the use of criminal defamation suits to silence journalists are having a chilling effect on the press in Ecuador.”
Rafael Correa’s latest anti-democratic power grab.1:03 PM, May 26, 2011 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
By endorsing the judicial and media “reforms” in this month’s constitutional referendum, Ecuador has moved a step closer to Venezuelan-style autocracy. President Rafael Correa, a Hugo Chávez disciple who has attacked opposition journalists, harassed private companies, and weakened democracy, will now have greater powers to regulate media content and punish reporters, judges, magistrates, and businessmen who disagree with his radical agenda. This represents a huge setback for those Ecuadoreans struggling to preserve the basic civil liberties that Americans take for granted.
Chile and Mexico have renewed diplomatic ties with Tegucigalpa.11:10 AM, Aug 9, 2010 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
In recent days, Chile and Mexico became the latest Latin American countries to reestablish formal diplomatic relations with Honduras, which (unfairly) became a pariah after the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya last summer.
Nearing irrelevance.10:55 AM, Mar 29, 2010 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Last week in Washington, the Organization of American States (OAS) held an election for secretary general. As expected, incumbent José Miguel Insulza won reelection to a second five-year term.
In past years, OAS elections have been full of pomp and circumstance, with presidents and foreign ministers from across the region in attendance. This year, however, not a single president made the trip. There were only two foreign ministers present, one of whom, Alfredo Moreno of Chile, was obliged to be there because Insulza is a Chilean.
He remains a very real threat to U.S. interests in Latin America and beyond.5:22 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Last week, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis Blair presented the “Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. While the report notes that Venezuela is “struggling” to deal with the post-2008 drop in oil prices and with production declines, it also outlines a variety of ways in which Hugo Chávez remains a very real threat to U.S. interests in Latin America and beyond.
Start with Iran. The mullahs have identified oil-rich Venezuela as a potential shield against the impact of international energy sanctions. Even if the U.S. and other Western powers further restricted Iran’s access to gasoline, Venezuela (and China) could help soften the blow. As U.S. policymakers evaluate the effectiveness of gasoline sanctions, they must remember that Tehran and Caracas have formed an increasingly close alliance. This past June, after Iran’s stolen election, while government thugs were murdering student demonstrators in the streets, Chávez congratulated Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his “very big and important victory.”
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